Why, exactly, is climate not weather?
Today, on the day Paul Krugman tells us that a bunch of politicians getting together and posing for photographs and brunching excessively has saved the planet, I feel motivated to ask this question:
What do people mean when they tell us, repeatedly, that climate is not weather? Or if you wonder how we’re predicting the climate and its effects 100 years from now, when we can’t reliably predict the weather 12 hours from now, and sometimes cannot accurately predict the weather as it’s happening, why does someone shake their head sadly about what a moron you are and explains: weather and climate are not the same thing, you sad, mentally-limited man-child.
I mean, why is the answer to the observation that we are not good at predicting the future for complex systems even in the near term essentially: “Well, the stock market is not the same thing as a large river with many tributaries”. I am aware that a watermelon is not a football, but if I want to say something about the shape of the football, the watermelon might still have some relevance. Just saying: “a watermelon is not a football” does not suddenly make a watermelon a trapezoid.
The official explanation is that climate is simple while weather is complex. Which, summarized thusly, seems an absurd statement. What they actually say, in their own words:
Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change.
… isn’t much better. There is very little evidence that climate models are able to successfully predict future climate change. And I find it interesting that a site that calls itself “skeptical science” blithely asserts that the climate models are predicting the future without the most basic evidence—the actual prediction of the future.
Also, you cannot reduce the complexity of a million or a billion inputs by averaging. Again, where are the skeptics (not to mention the mathematicians) at Skeptical Science? The assertion that climate can be accurately predicted (because averaging!) while the weather 12 hours from now, much less 3 days from now, cannot reminds me of that cartoon. You know the one.
I would also observe that every time there is a severe or unusual weather event, climate suddenly becomes the cause for the weather. Which, to me, begs the question why we cannot use our infinitely accurate climate models to start predicting the weather. Wait, I know! Because we’ve tried it, and it turns out those predictions were wrong, too.
I have come to the not unreasonable conclusion that climate ≠ weather in the context of anthropogenic climate change because we have ample, daily evidence that the behaviors of a complex system cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy. The predictions of climate change are always far in the future, and evidence of inaccuracy of such predictions so far in the past they can be dismissed, or the data massaged. Harder the argue that, yes, it was sunny yesterday, even though the leaves are still wet from all the rain.
Tangentially related, even mainstream, largely liberal news organs like Time and Newsweek had to observe that the Paris talks were far less about climate or “saving the planet” than they were about making money, creating markets, and allocating capital.
Off the mainstream, WND says the same thing with more chutzpah.
Finally, How Climate Change Deniers Sound to Normal People:
Because anybody who doesn’t agree with me ideologically is abnormal. And sounds like an idiot to all the normal people. Conform, you abberants! Conform!
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: climate change |